MSMIS program grooms women leaders in high-tech.

The Master of Science in Management Information Systems (MSMIS) program in the College of Business Administration evolves continuously in response to a changing environment, but one factor remains constant.

“We want to graduate students who are qualified to take leadership positions in IT in South Florida,” said Irma Becerra-Fernández, associate professor in the Decision Sciences and Information Systems (DSIS) Department and faculty director of the MSMIS program.

For women, the challenges in gaining such positions remain daunting, but signs of progress exist.

For example, the online article “Women CIOs: How to Smash the Glass Ceiling,” which appeared in December, 2006, in Baseline, cited telling statistics. Prepared by Catalyst, a nonprofit organization that is working to increase the proportion of women in top jobs, the July, 2006 report showed that women held 9.4 percent of all jobs higher than vice president at Fortune 500 companies in 2005. Though the number is still small—and does not have CIO positions singled out—the percentage of women in the positions is up from 7.9 percent in 2002.

Three alumnae of the college’s MSMIS program feel their degree is helping them achieve their career goals and giving them the confidence to set their sights high—in part because the program offers a fifty/fifty mix of technology and business.

MSMIS enables graduate to attain senior status.

Citereia Allembert Ajayi

Citereia Allembert Ajayi (MSMIS ’06) bypassed level 1 or junior-level designations when she recently landed a job as a senior business systems analyst at Norwegian Cruise Lines.

“I came into the corporation at a higher level because of my degree and my previous work as a database coordinator for a law firm,” said Ajavi. “I feel confident in the job because what I learned about the management of technology in the MSMIS program enables me to make good recommendations to my employers and the teams I’m on,” she said.

For her, the program’s balance between technology and business was the attraction.

“Anyone can pick up a book and learn technology,” she said. “What drives my career is the business knowledge I’ve learned, along with my experience. You can’t get that from a book.”

Strategic orientation benefits alumna.

Veronica Gomes

“The program doesn’t just give you key technologies—it’s strategic,” said Veronica Gomes (MSMIS ’06), a member of IBM’s technical support team, who was promoted to advanced technical support while taking the program. “You learn how to plan, manage, differentiate, and impact business through technology, and you see how technology varies from one company to another. As a result, you feel you are a more skilled professional who can look at the big picture and successfully integrate business with technology.”

She also found the diversity of her colleagues an advantage in the marketplace.

“The university allows professional women and men of different backgrounds, countries, cultures, and experiences to work together and produce from that diversity very interesting results, discussions, perspectives, and solutions,” she said. “This combination is very useful in the global markets and businesses in which we work.”

Well-rounded program gives graduate full picture of the field.

Julia M. Accardo

Just one semester as a marine biology major was enough for Julia M. Accardo (MSMIS ’04), information management, Florida Power & Light Company, to realize her future lay elsewhere. She already had an interest in business and liked the technical aspects of the college’s MSMIS program.

“I got an idea of what I wanted to pursue because I learned about telecommunications, databases, the Web, programming, project management, and more.” said Accardo, who currently performs systems analysis and project management.

She’s confident about her prospects in what’s still a male-dominated field—an imbalance reflected in the classroom and as well as in the workplace.

“I haven’t encountered any gender-based obstacles in the IT industry thus far, but I feel that my education and work experience have prepared me to face any competitive challenges that may arise in the future,” she said. “I anticipate that my knowledge of a variety of technical areas will continue to be rewarded throughout my career.”

The MSMIS program takes one year and meets on Saturdays to accommodate the busy schedules of working professionals. For more information, visit

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